At first there were just beginners in Line dancing and now there are beginners and absolute beginners – often called ABs. The newer level really came in when beginner Line dances became a bit more complex than beginner dances of the past. So the AB level was the new, true, beginner and the old beginner level became more like the improver or even easy intermediate level from the mid 1990s. I am sure that somewhere there are even different levels of absolute beginners now. All these different levels can make life tricky for newbies wanting to find a suitable Line dance class. So the following explanations might be helpful for dancers and instructors wanting some guidance about beginners.
AB or absolute beginners
An AB class should be suitable for brand new beginners wanting to learn their first Line dance basics and dance. ABs should be able to take part in the class without needing any earlier experience of Line dancing. By the end of the class the new AB should have learned some very basic Line dance moves and structures of Line dancing (such as being introduced to the concept of walls). The basic moves are suitable for warming up and for combining into short AB dances. For example, simple walks forward and backwards, touches, hitches, step and close, step and touch, and toe struts. With these few basics it is possible to do lots of step combinations and AB level dances.
An AB class is usually a transient class – as people grasp the basics they move up into a beginner level class. So depending how quickly the basics are learned, an AB might only be in this level of class for a very short time.
Beginner Line dancers today have usually mastered some basic steps, movements and dances. These might be AB dances or beginner level or a mixture of both. A beginner will be tackling slightly longer dances than the very short AB dances. And they will be fairly confident in dancing the basic steps learned at AB level.
Some Line dancers like to stay at beginner level for some time. When this happens a beginner class can evolve into something more like a high improver level or easy intermediate class. This needn’t be a problem when everyone progresses together. But if new beginners want to join this type of beginner class then this can affect the content taught at the class. Sometimes an instructor will decide to keep the higher beginner level class together and start another true beginner class for new beginners. When this happens it is helpful to re-name the higher level beginner class to something that describes the class more accurately – improver perhaps.
Some instructors still hold a one level beginner class for everyone from new starters to experienced beginners. This raises some challenges for instructors as they need to teach the beginner basics and give sufficiently stimulating material for the experienced beginners. This type of class will suit some beginners and not others. A good thing about this sort of class is that the experienced beginners practise the basics regularly and can become very proficient. Building a really good foundation of basics is a great thing to do. They will benefit from this as they progress. The downside for some is that they are impatient to just learn new stuff and don’t show much interest in practising the stuff they already know. So a mixed beginner class is a bit of a juggling act for the instructor trying to keep everyone happy.
However beginner classes are delivered, they are a very important part of learning to Line dance. The beginner class is when Line dancers begin to build up their movement and coordination skills, their muscle memories of movement patterns and their musicality. And if the beginner class has done its job then the Line dancer will have a good foundation to build on as they progress. Time and effort well spent at beginner level is invaluable.